Designer Brandon Maxwell Picks This Black Model and Her Whole Family to Star in Campaign

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 27:  Model Riley Montana after Balmain on Day 4 of Paris Fashion Week Mens SS16 on June 27, 2015 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Melodie Jeng/Getty Images)

Designer Brandon Maxwell Picks This Black Model and Her Whole Family to Star in Campaign

Riley Montana took us home to Detroit.

Published February 1, 2017

For his Spring 2017 campaign film, designer Brandon Maxwell, who has dressed the likes of Naomi Campbell and Lady Gaga, decided to go in a different direction than your standard fashion film. Instead, he decided to shoot an intimate short film about the home life of his close friend, Victoria’s Secret model Riley Montana. Directed by filmmaker Jessy Price, the video, called "Ebony," provides moving, personal insights into Montana’s life, and how she evolved from regular Detroit girl Ebony Riley to international supermodel Riley Montana.

“I’ve spent so much time with Riley and we talked about our lives and similarities,” Maxwell told Vogue. “I realized that she’s the embodiment of the woman I design for. The woman who, no matter what she’s been through, puts on the clothes with her head held high.”

The video was shot documentary-style in Montana’s childhood home in Detroit, and features several members of her family. It shows another, authentic, side to the model, one that the fashion industry encouraged her to brush aside. “I am no longer afraid to be me, no longer afraid to share my energy and my past,” she says in the video. “The things I was taught to hide are the reason I am who I am today.”

Montana was forced to change a lot for her career, not an uncommon tale in the notoriously snobby and oft-racist industry. “I couldn’t be Ebony — I would tell myself that ‘Riley’ has to be this super-polished and proper person,” she told Vogue. “I was traveling the world for the first time, going here and there and meeting these beautiful people, and I just wasn’t happy. At the end of the day they weren’t even getting to meet the real me.”

“I’m done with that chapter. I’m not hiding or changing who I am,” she continued. “I’m not living in Detroit anymore, but I’ve been given a platform to reach out to the people whom I want to reach out to. [Fashion] has offered me a different life, and I just want to be happy and thankful for all of it.”

Check out the whole video over at Vogue.

Written by Jocelyn Silver

(Photo: Melodie Jeng/Getty Images)

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